Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 - 1815) was a Viennese aristocratic physician; he had a doctorate in medicine, philosophy, and theology. Mesmer was the forerunner of mind healing, a kind of semi-hypnotic treatment. He was a multifaceted man, interested in many things, mathematics, physics, music, etc. It is said that Mesmer helped the young musician Mozart by providing his house and money to perform his first opera. Mesmer was influenced by Paracelsus, a medieval doctor who believed in the influence of planets. Incidentally, Mesmer’s doctoral dissertation was on “The Influence of the Planets upon the Human Body” (1766).
Mesmer became interested in healing with magnetic iron when a couple of wealthy people came to Vienna to see the priest Maximilian Hell. He was an official astronomer of Hungary and a Catholic priest who used to heal people using magnets. The wife of these visitors was very sick and requested to be cured with the magical magnets. Hell told Mesmer about the request of the visitors, and Mesmer asked the priest to keep him informed about the procedure’s outcome. Days later, Hell told Mesmer that the lady was completely healed with the magnets, and the couple returned home very happy. The priest suggested Mesmer use magnets to heal his patients.
Subsequently, Mesmer started using magnets on his patients. To his amazement, he had tremendous success with this method; people started being healed from many maladies: throat sore, persistent headaches, back pains, etc. As a result, people from all walks of life came to see Mesmer and continued succeeding. But Mesmer was a man of science; he had to find the rationale behind these healings. Thus, under the influence of Paracelsus, Mesmer postulated that the magnets accumulate the universal energy of the planets and galaxies. Then when it is applied to the ill person, that energy is transmitted to the patient, and the healing is done. Mesmer was convinced that the existence of a universal and invisible fluid pervades the whole universe. This cosmic fluid was the vehicle for the reciprocal influences of heavenly bodies, the earth, and living organisms.
The Count Saint Germain is well-known in Free Masonry, esoteric, and metaphysical schools. He is the patron of ceremonial magic. It is said that when Mesmer was enjoying a wide reputation in Europe, Count Saint Germain visited him. After the meeting, Mesmer’s theory changed utterly, and the concept of personal influence came into play. The magnets were no longer needed because his body could accumulate the universal life force, and it could be transmitted to the ill person. This, later on, was called Animal Magnetism.
Mesmer posited that he could harness the powers of cosmic energies because it was accessible to evolved men such as himself. At this point, his basic thesis of an illness was caused by the imbalances of the flow of the universal fluid through the ill person’s body. Over time, Mesmer developed trance-inducing techniques and hypnotic stares, stroking, waving of a magnetic wand, and touching the unhealthy parts of the body.
American Phineas P. Quimby, Father of the New Thought Movement, initially learned the mesmeric technique and started practicing this healing method in New England with great success. In time he developed his own way of restoring people’s health based on changing the frame of mind of the sick person. At the end of his life, he developed a more advanced technique of curing based on Jesus Christ’s teaching, which can be called Mind/Spiritual Healing.
As the story of Mind Healing goes, Quimby’s disciples, such as Rev. Warren Felt Evans, a prolific writer on mental healing, and Julius and Annetta Dresser, started healing following the method of Quimby. Since then, mental/spiritual/faith healing has spread around the world rapidly. Several churches and organizations are practicing this kind of healing worldwide, being the most noticeable: Unity Church, Religious Science, Divine Science, Quimby Memorial Church, etc. For further information, refer to the book: “Healing Without Medicine: From Pioneers to Modern Practice.”
Albert Amao Soria